"How to Review Progressive Rock"

How To Be a Great Progressive Rock Reviewer In 10 Easy Steps  
(by Daniel Barrett as posted on the rec.music.progressive newsgroup)

Reviewing progressive rock albums can be simple. Are you tired of agonizing over the right words to use? Confused about your subject matter? Or are you just a lazy pig? Then use the following tips, and prog rockers everywhere will believe your every word. Trust me. Each tip is followed by an example so you can see exactly how it's done.

  1. In every review, you MUST praise the Mellotron. Always describe it using the word "wash." "Gentile Goyim's keyboardist, Kerry Mayonnaise, treats the listener to spectacular, warm washes of everybody's favorite Mellotron." FOR BONUS POINTS, also mention the Hammond B-3, and imply violence. "Greg Palmer's raw, two-fisted Hammond work pierces the listener's eardrums with sonic knives." EXTRA BONUS POINTS if you mention either of these instruments, and they don't actually appear in the music. "On the road, King Creampuff's keyboard setup consists of grand piano, harpsichord, and several analog synths, but strangely, no Mellotron."

  2. Any band that uses cello automatically gets a rave review. For bonus points, use the word "haunting." "As the music fades, a haunting solo cello appears out of nowhere, accompanied by a trio of Mellotrons, washing away." Subtract ten points if you compare the music to "Eleanor Rigby."

  3. If the music has flute in it, compare it to Jethro Tull. It doesn't matter that the music is really death metal, chanting monks, or atonal birdsong: YOU MUST MENTION TULL. For extra points, mention Camel too. "Paraan's music features Hyperia Gomez on flute, inviting comparison to Jethro Tull or Camel, even though the flute's main use is as a handy mallet to bang several large gongs."

  4. You don't have to bother describing the music. Just list the instruments and let the reader imagine the rest. "From out of New Zealand comes Genghis Ka-Ka, one of the finest prog bands I've ever heard. If you are a fan of acoustic guitar, haunting cello, and explosive, annihilating Hammond B-3, you MUST check out this album."

  5. Mention the length of at least one song. Extra points if you call it an "opus." "Side 2 of the album is completely taken up by 'Ode to Bowser', a 22-minute magnum opus based on the theme from 'My Dog Has Fleas.'"

  6. Casually mention the name of an extremely obscure band that one of the musicians used to play in, making your reader feel REALLY stupid or disloyal for not knowing it.  "... featuring Sergio Blammobarpher, whom fans will no doubt recall as the charismatic ex-triangle player from ubiquitous Icelandic proggers Hund Extinctski Thirstifollicle."  THE CUNEFORM COROLLARY: put completely obscure band names in parentheses for extra points. "Rounding out the group's sound is Bridgid Kirsch (Dootwhapper, B'nai Gwelzh) on freshly washed Mellotron."

  7. The Syn-Phonic Rule: Praise every album by calling it the "best" example of a totally contrived category. Don't forget the exclamation points. * Museo Rubenstein, PASTAFAZOOL ($18). Possibly the ultimate Eskimo bassoon band of all time!!!!

  8. If a progressive album features very long, drawn-out, incredibly repetitive, boring instrumentals, call it "space music."  "Space rockers Mimsy Borogoves specialize in atmospheric drones that last upwards of four hours before switching notes."

  9. Use abbreviations known only to seasoned proggers. "Zyzzyva's music is a thrilling blend of PFM, HTM, RIO, TNR, ZNR, and PDQ Bach."

  10. Every keyboard/bass/drums trio MUST be compared to ELP. Every quiet, symphonic prog album MUST be compared to PER UN AMICO. All raw, loud music MUST be compared to King Crimson's RED. All counterpoint MUST be compared to Gentle Giant. Bonus points if it sounds nothing like Gentle Giant.

Every "old Genesis style" band MUST be compared to Marillion, not Genesis. Every male vocalist with a high voice MUST be compared to Jon Anderson. Every female vocalist, regardless of range or style, MUST be compared to Annie Haslam. Every band that uses sudden, unpredictable tempo and time signature changes MUST be compared to Barry Manilow. "Angled Guard, Sweden's newest prog sensation, combines the beauty of PER UN AMICO with the rawness of RED, producing a progressive, symphonic extravaganza that could only have come from Marillion. Lead singers Jon Haslam and Annie Anderson are pictured on the album cover, inserting twin flutes up Barry Manilow's nose... taking the instrument far beyond anything Camel and Tull ever did."